Montpellier 13-22 Racing 92: Top 14 champions through to semi-finals
Last Updated: 20/05/17 6:57pm
Joe Rokocoko scored the decisive try as defending champions Racing 92 beat Montpellier 22-13 to set up a Top 14 semi-final date with Clermont in Marseille next weekend.
Rokocoko used all his strength to cross in the corner five minutes from time, and Dan Carter added a late penalty after Jannie du Plessis was sent off for punching to continue to the next step of their title defence of the Bouclier Brennus.
On Friday, Welsh full-back Leigh Halfpenny scored the crucial late try in a personal haul of 21 points as Toulon beat Castres 26-22 to set up the opening semi-final against La Rochelle.
Racing's outstanding flanker Yannick Nyanga was denied an early try after a wonderful one-handed offload from Fijian giant Leone Nakawara.
But Racing hit back immediately from the line-out of the clearing kick, Nakawara peeling around off Bernard Le Roux's pass into open space to bound over for the opening score, Carter converting.
Montpellier's Timoci Nagusa sparked the home team's reply with his own silky handling skills, scrum-half Benoit Paillaugue eventually crashing over after taking a quick tap penalty.
Racing, who finished in the sixth and final play-off spot at the end of the regular season, roared back into the lead when Teddy Thomas crossed in the corner after Nyanga gathered a speculative Maxime Machenaud chip and offloaded to the winger.
Antoine Guillamon was denied a try after a great covering tackle, Demetri Catrakalis booting a penalty after Racing strayed offside in the build-up.
Racing centre Henry Chavancy was then on hand to bundle Duhan van der Merwe into touch as he raced down his wing to the line to leave it 14-10 at half-time.
Springbok centre Frans Steyn was yellow-carded early in the second period in the worst possible start for Montpellier, but Jake White's side hung in there and conceded no points, Catrakalis even booting a penalty to bring the scores to within one.
Van der Merwe dragged Racing lock Gerbrandt Grobler into touch as Racing turned the screw and Nagusa did well to force Eddy Ben Arous into a knock-on as he crossed the Montpellier line.
Rokocoko then eased the suspense with his try as Montpellier's day worsened with Springbok prop Du Plessis red-carded for punching and Carter landing the subsequent penalty.